Differences Between VoIP and Virtual Phone Numbers
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and virtual phone number services are very similar. In fact, VoIP service providers often offer private branch exchanges (PBX) that can route call traffic. Companies can subscribe to VoIP service and receive PBX service from their vendor–this can be cloud-hosted or you can also use a PBX box. PBX boxes can cost a tremendous amount of money upfront, so many businesses prefer to rent a PBX or pay their vendors for the use of a cloud-hosted PBX.
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)–A service using the public Internet to route telephone calls.
- Virtual Phone Numbers–Calls are connected to public landline and cellphone networks using private data centers and VoIP service.
In essence, VoIP providers are offering virtual phone number functionality to companies and conducting PBX functions as part of VoIP service. Some companies, though, have bigger needs with large call volumes. These organizations often benefit from having their very own systems. PBX systems can help these companies save money. This allows them to use multiple vendors, if they want. There are pros and cons to having your own PBX and using the cloud.
In this article, we will talk more about some of the differences and how you can determine which one you need for your business. By the end of this post, you should know more about how VoIP and PBX systems work. You can decide if you need a PBX, a cloud-hosted one or a box, or if you should just get basic VoIP service and have all of these functions taken care of by your vendor.
- Phone Capabilities
- Features and Functionality
- Which is Right for You?
1. Phone Capabilities
Both system types have a great range of capabilities and flexibility. VoIP and virtual phone systems are both digital, electronic, and use network connections. VoIP can use cloud-hosted Internet technologies to offer a virtual phone system and Session Internet Protocol (SIP) trunking. SIP trunking connects a VoIP system to the public phone system, which is something that PBX systems do. Virtual PBX systems and VoIP systems can both call landline and cell phones, so either system could help your organization connect with customers and members of the public that are using traditional phone plans.
You can use a variety of different phone types, such as Internet Protocol (IP) phones, smartphones, tablets and analog phones. With an analog telephone adapter (ATA), you can connect a traditional phone designed for landline use directly to a VoIP system of some kind. Most vendors allow you to choose the kind of phones that work best for you. They can also help you choose specific phones that work best for your organization. You may be able to buy phones or rent them, depending on your needs. If you have phones already, you might also be able to bring these phones into your plan. You vendor may be able to offer service for them, too, which can help.
2. Features and Functionality
VoIP services are usually fairly limited in comparison with PBX services. Features such as call recording, autodialing and call management require a PBX box or cloud service. VoIP-only plans offer basic calling. Plans that include a PBX take this further and offer a huge variety of rich features and functions that help businesses and organizations. So, in many cases, having a PBX or PBX functionality is very helpful for businesses. Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can still obtain PBX services because these plans are very scalable, so do not be afraid to consider these plans even if you operate a smaller organization. You are not limited to basic phone plans. If you need a complex phone plan for a call center or some other purpose, then these contracts are available in smaller sizes and in bigger plans that can serve a variety of business sizes.
Many features are available that can make your work easier and more effective. You can even create your own contact center or virtual call center. Recording capabilities, phone call management and other features are available that can help you get even more done and can help you transform your organization. You may be able to get even more out of phone systems than you ever thought possible, too. These services are much cheaper with VoIP and virtual systems than they would be with traditional landline and cell phones. This makes these advanced features much more accessible.
PBX systems provide strong security because they directly SIP trunk into the public phone system, with little to no use of the public Internet to transmit VoIP calls. Pure VoIP plans, on the other hand, use the Internet exclusively to transmit calls, so they run the risk of hacking and intrusion. In spite of these vulnerabilities, you can reduce your risk and help ensure that your system is safe. Having a PBX connect your system to the public phone networks can help tremendously. It is important to have some type of security available, for sure.
Regardless of the system you have, choosing to follow commonsense security measures can help significantly. Change default passwords, change your passwords frequently, only allow authorized use of your systems, limit use to specific employees, restrict use of your systems based on job function and title. Take measures to secure your system and prevent outside intrusion.
4. Which is Right for You?
Depending on the size of your business and the specific needs of your organization, you should be prepared to choose a phone system that can help your organization be more efficient and prepared. You should look carefully at your operations, at how you use your business communications system, at any changes in use you are planning, and at your anticipated future needs. You need to be sure you choose the right vendor, plan and phone system.
For a smaller business, a PBX system may not be necessary. Basic phone features and the ability to call the numbers you need to locally and internationally may be all you really need. If you are not operating a virtual call center or contact center, it may not make sense for you to have a PBX or virtual PBX. Those SIP trunking functions can be provided by your vendor and you do not necessarily need to interact heavily with this functionality.
A VoIP system may not provide enough of what a bigger company needs. You may also need PBX functionality. This can help you access the more advanced features and use call center functionality if you need it. It is something worth choosing if you plan to have a large call volume, too, and need a system to manage these calls and direct them to the correct agents. PBX systems can conduct many of these functions. A PBX box is a computerized system that does the SIP trunking and call management for you. Since these are expensive, it usually only makes sense for bigger organizations to use them. Small businesses may not need a physical box. They may benefit more from having these functions conducted by the VoIP vendor. These systems, including call routing, recording and other features, can be conducted in the cloud by computers owned and operated by the vendor.